I strongly protest the Washington Post headline of April 13 that Joe Louis was "bereft of dollars, dignity." You may know what bereft means but you difinitely don't know what dignity means. Joe Louis could no more be bereft of dignity than the Atlantic Ocean could be bereft of water. The fact that he earned money as best he could to pay his debts and support his family is the natural result of his great dignity, rather than a sign of loss of dignity.

I'm sure that he would have considered declaring backruptcy and living on charity to be the ultimate loss of dignity, which he could not come close to accepting. Louis may not have been the greatest athletic performer in American sports history, but he definitely was the greatest athlete and the greatest athletic hero.

As one who is old enough to remember, I can say that Joe Louis did more for race relations than all the civil rights activists put together. When Louis fought Max Schmeling for the second time, it was the first time that all the white people, except for the worst bigots, were cheering for a black man against a white man, and this had a huge emotional effect on all Americans, including those who never read the sports pages and wouldn't consider watching a boxing match.